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He was re-hydrated with IV fluids, and doctors attempted to get Barajah to eat liquid foods. However, it was too late, and he passed away on Wednesday.
According to the BBC, the pastor was also a French teacher in the town of Messica, found close to Mozambique’s western border with Zimbabwe.
Members of his church said it was common for the pastor and his followers to fast, but not for that extreme and dangerous length of time.
The Bible’s Gospel of Luke say that after his baptism, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where he fasted for 40 days. The Gospel of Matthew goes on to say that the fast went on for ‘forty days and forty nights’.
The story sees Jesus being tempted by the devil, but he perseveres and passes the test. ‘He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry,’ the Bible says in Luke 4:2.
However, the two accounts are unclear on whether Jesus completely completely gave up food and water. Some scholars suggest he ate nothing, while others believe he would have survived off scraps in the wilderness.
Depending on the person, humans can live without food for lengthy period of times. According to Medical News Today, a well-fed male weighing around 70 kilograms could survive between one and three months without eating.
However, people who have voluntarily stopped eating in hunger strikes have died after 45 to 61 days without food, the publications says, suggesting a person is unlikely to survive three months without food, even if they are well-nourished.
Surviving without water is another matter. People typically die after around three days without drinking any fluids.
According to the BBC, Barajah’s brother said that while the pastor had fasted, he questioned the official medical diagnosis, saying his brother had been suffering from low blood pressure already before he began the fast.
Barajah is not the first person reported to have died attempting to emulate Jesus Christ’s 40-day fast in the desert.
According to the BBC, a Zimbabwean man died after 30 days, and in 2006 a woman died in London when she was half-way through a similar fast.
However, an inquest into the death of Rosaline Gilbert, 29, heard how she had an underlying blood condition which killed her, rather than her religious starvation.
The inquest at Poplar Coroner’s Court was told concerned Hackney residents forced down her door and found her body after not hearing from her for days.
After Rosaline’s death her mother, Gloria, said at the time: ‘She fasted a lot. This time she wanted to fast for 40 days and 40 nights like Jesus.
‘I had no idea it would end like this. She would only have water and when people from her church offered food she refused saying the Lord would provide.’